Lots of ink is being spilled over Romney’s VP choice – the alternatives, the criteria, the process being managed by long-time trusted lieutenant Beth Myers – but the decision which may have a greater impact on the November outcome may actually be on the Democratic side. The conventional wisdom is that Biden is a repeat, Hillary retires for awhile, and Mario Cuomo joins the two of them in competing for the 2016 presidential nomination. But maybe not.
The premise: Most observers anticipate a close election with likely voters now saying we are on the “wrong track” by a two to one margin, placing the economy as the most important issue by a double digit margin, and favoring Romney on the economy by a similar amount. Romney will want to focus on the current malaise and Obama’s lack of any long term solutions while Obama will want to focus on income inequality and anything else. Even the “I Man” must know that he needs help.
From Hillary’s perspective, assuming that she still wants the presidency when she turns 69 in 2016 (admittedly a big assumption), there are four possibilities: sit it out and compete to replace a President Romney (worst chance); sit it out and compete to succeed a reelected President Obama; be the loyal VP candidate and compete to replace a President Romney; or be a loyal VP and compete to follow a reelected President Obama (best chance; least work). She would, of course, have to be asked.
From David Axelrod’s perspective, Hillary’s labor support would have a strong chance to solidify key industrial swing states which are likely wins anyway (Pennsylvania; Michigan), a few that are true toss-ups (Wisconsin), and a few that are more tenuous, but on a “must have” list for Romney (Ohio). Ironically, in this fifth decade of feminism, the list of leading Democratic women is very short – Nancy Pelosi (nope), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (nope), Maxine Waters (nope). Bad luck,former Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan was born in Canada. Even with a reach, there is no Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Nikki Haley, or Susana Martinez. And if Romney owns the economic issues, maybe it would be better to play up Hillary’s international experience.
Those who read the tea leaves make something of the apparent exclusion of Joe Biden from Obama’s weekly campaign meetings – although there are undoubtedly scratches on the outside of the door. Biden’s pushing of Obama into supporting gay marriage could have some impact on their relationship, and the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might graciously accept a swap of roles. And if not Biden, who? The silence is deafening.
So, assuming that the Romney campaign is not asleep, what do you do about this woman who has rehabilitated herself to the point that Bush carry-over Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has described her as “Tough. Indefatigable. Patient. Smart. Knowledgeable. Superior political instincts. Funny. Loyal team player. Finds opportunities in crises and challenges. Skilled global advocate for American interests and American values.” All of this has room for debate – and criticism of the handling of the Chen Guangcheng incident is aimed at Hillary as much as at Obama.
Who’d have thought that the Republicans would be hoping for another turn with Joe Biden?
And in the spirit of providing equal time, this week’s video is a speech by Joe Biden praising Jon Corzine as the smartest financial person he knows – just before Corzine bankrupted MF Global by betting on European bonds and inappropriately transferred $1.6 billion in client funds in a futile effort to cover his losses. At long last, somebody – Congressman Michael Grimm – is calling for Eric Holder to turn the investigation of $500,000 Obama bundler Corzine over to an independent counsel.